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Welcome to our regular Saturday feature “What Aggravates Me”

School’s out, at least it is in our neighborhood. If you don’t know where that is, I’m not saying. I don’t need people coming around purposely trying to aggravate me. I get aggravated enough by people that aren’t trying.

What I noticed as I did my run today, was there were no children outside. Ok, I saw one kid on roller blades and a hockey stick. Hockey didn’t used to be a summer sport. The finals used to end by Memorial Day. I think if they go seven games this year we will have hockey right up to the fourth of July.

I know a lot of parents have to work two jobs and kids are in Day Care or someplace similar, but there had to be some kids at home. I hope they’re not inside playing video games. If your children are doing that, kick them in the butt and make them get some air.

We were never inside in the summer when I was a kid. If there was nothing else to do, we played whiffle ball all day. We didn’t go to a field but played in the alley behind our houses. It made it more convenient if we wanted something to drink or needed a bathroom break. Plus, it was more annoying to the neighbors.

One guy in particular was our nemesis. He planted a garden in his yard every year and was overly protective. If the ball went into his yard and you weren’t fast enough, he would run out and confiscated it. He had a nose like a pelican and black rimmed glasses. We gave him the name “Joe Nose.”

It wasn’t like we were trying to hit the ball in his yard. In fact if you did, you were out. On the other hand, if you hit one into the yard where the teenage girl used to sunbathe…well, you got to go in the yard and get the ball. Making sure to apologize and stare, not necessarily in that order. If she was laying on her stomach with her top undone and you hit one close enough to startle her and get a quick flash…that was automatic eight runs. A double grand slam, even if nobody was on base. It never happened but not from lack of effort.

The thing with Joe Nose was we never caused any damage to his precious garden. Oh, I think one time a line drive sheared a branch off of one of his tomato plants. He came out of the house like a flash and we ran like hell. After laying low for an hour or so, we came close enough to see him but he couldn’t see us. It looked like he was having some kind of memorial service for the branch.

As the summer wore on, we were losing way too many balls. Something had to be done. Sure we could have played somewhere else like he suggested, but what fun is that. We had to come up with something. No, not having him rubbed out…I’d like to say that subject never came up, but let’s just move along with the story.

It was Randy’s idea. He was the oldest of our group. He had gone to the five and dime, or five and ten as we used to call it, on Broadway in McKees Rocks. I don’t remember ever buying anything there that cost either a nickel or a dime. Not like the dollar store, where everything is a dollar. Or the 99 cent store, same thing. I saw a 98 cent store once in California. I guess they cater to that special clientele that’s not upscale enough to shop at the 99 cent store.

Anyway, Randy had priced the item we were all going to purchase. The “Groucho” glasses with the nose and moustache. We would cut off the moustache part to make us look more like a certain neighbor. The next time the ball went into his yard, he ran out to get it. He stopped in stunned silence as he stared into a mirror of himself many times over. His wife summed it up,

“Get in the house, those kids are making an ass out of you.”

We got all of our balls back after that and he was a lot nicer to us. Looking back, I guess we could have played somewhere else and maybe we were rotten little kids. It could have been worse though. At least we didn’t have him whacked.

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